Dear Holly: The Convenient Double-Standard for Average, Involved Dads

19 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Convenient Double-Standard for Good Dads

Dear Holly,

Last Friday I took off of work since your daycare was closed. While most of my day was spent changing your diapers, feeding you, and playing with you, we did get out of the house when we not only dropped off your brother Jack at school, but later went back to eat lunch with him there at the school cafeteria.

You had a wet diaper as we arrived at his school about 15 minutes early. I didn’t care enough to find the proper place to change you, as I didn’t want to tote your car seat and my book bag (with your diapers) with me, so I just changed  you right there on the bench I was sitting on; which was sort of hidden by the staircase above me.

Afterwards, I stood you up in my lap to face the oncoming students, teachers, and room moms. Of course they all made a point to smile back at you and tell me how beautiful you are.

A few minutes later, we saw your brother Jack leading the line. While carrying you, the car seat, and the book bag, I attempted to follow him in to help him get his lunch.

Mommy usually makes his lunch, but on Fridays, he buys the school lunch, because he can get vegetarian pizza that day. Unfortunately, they had just ran out of pizza and gave him a pork sandwich instead by the time I caught up to him.

Miraculously, his class’s room mom appeared and helped us negotiate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead; even though you had already paid for the pork sandwich.

We ended up sitting with the room mom and her daughter. She commented that she had seen me sort of struggling there with you as I had to find a place to change your diaper.

As we left after lunch, other moms and teachers bragged on me for simply showing up; even if my attempt was a bit awkward and unskilled.

That’s when I began to process to convenient double standard of the good dad:

I simply get praise and credit for just doing my job. Whereas for moms, they are simply expected to do those things.

Granted, the trade-off is that dads and husbands have been historically portrayed as idiots on commercials and sitcoms.

Maybe the ultimately irony is that less is expected of us dads because of the way we’ve been negatively portrayed in media, so that when we are caught “being a good dad”, it makes it seem that much more special, which it totally isn’t.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack,

This past Saturday you and Papa and I had a genuinely great time at my Cousin Jessica’s wedding. It was a once in a lifetime experience you will never forget- I’m sure of it.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Back a couple of months ago when our family was driving back from Atlanta on our first family of road trip as a family of 4, we took a minor detour to go visit my grandparents on Papa’s side. We didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the last time we saw PawPaw Shell on this Earth.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Just a few weeks later, he passed away. You and I attended his funeral as part of our father and son road trip; while Mommy and baby Holly were visiting family in California.

To honor his life, my cousin Jessica had her wedding at PawPaw Shell’s farm in Sale Creek, Tennessee.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

I had never once in my life seen PawPaw wearing anything other than a flannel shirt and a pair of overalls. Never pants, never jeans, never shorts- just overalls. He was even buried in his overalls.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Undeniably, PawPaw Shell was one of the most Southern men I ever knew.

Therefore, for my Cousin Jessica to have a wedding that also honored our grandfather… it had to be unapologetically country. So it was.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

For the music, Jessica’s step-dad pulled up his truck to the barn and rolled down the windows, so everyone could hear the music.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

After the wedding, everyone lined up for the meal, which consisted of potluck. As for Papa and me, we brought the vegan pasta salad that Nonna made. There was also some vegan chili there as well.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

I found a cinder block for you to sit on to eat the mac-and-cheese Nonna packed for you. Had we realized though, mac-and-cheese was actually already a menu item on the barn buffet.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

A popular place to sit during the meal was in the bed of one of the many pick-up trucks there.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

You enjoyed your wedding favor, which was a children’s duck call.

After the meal, we walked down to the pond to go fishing. You had never actually been “real fishing” before, so this was a really big deal for you.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

No one brought bait, so it was a matter of digging for worms and catching grasshoppers…

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

My Cousin Jessica’s son Breyan was able to catch 3 fish right in a row! That was especially amazing, since he explained to me it was his first time fishing.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Unfortunately, you didn’t have such luck. You didn’t catch your first fish, but we will surely try again.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake! w18

As we made our way back to the barn to get you a piece of wedding cake, we saw my Cousin Angie’s son with a ball python around his snake.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake! w20

He explained it was his pet that he’s had for a year and a half. I decided to hold the snake, as I don’t necessarily remember holding one before at any point in my life.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

You decided to pass on the opportunity, which surprised me, since we go to the Repticon reptile show every year.

After we left the wedding, Papa drove us by the famous Spaceship House on Signal Mountain. PawPaw Shell helped build it, back in 1973.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Though it all may seem like a dream to you now, I promise, it was all real. That all really happened! From the fishing to the snake to the UFO house!

Love,

Daddy

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2016-lexus-es-300h-father-son-road-trip/

Dear Holly: A Glimpse of Your Upcoming Family Life

30 weeks.

Dear Holly: A Glimpse of Your Upcoming Family Life

Dear Holly,

Tuesday night as I was finishing up dishes downstairs, I happened to hear the conversation going on upstairs, as Mommy was getting your brother Jack ready for bed.

I heard Jack telling Mommy, “Daddy gets toothpaste all over my mouth when he brushes my teeth in the morning. Daddy’s crazy!

Mommy replied, “Yes, you’ve got a crazy Daddy and you’re lucky to have him.”

That made me feel all warm inside as I heard it.

I then decided to join the moment by sneaking upstairs with my new toy:

Earlier that day, thanks to a Barnes and Noble gift card I had received after helping out a friend, I was able to purchase a really cool pack rat puppet, from the brand Folkmanis.

I’ve named my new puppet Magellan the Mouse and he will be a new main character on web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest.

Your brother Jack was standing at the top of the stairs, facing Mommy, as he was getting dressed for bedtime.

Quite successfully, I sneaked up the stairs without him realizing it, just inches away from his feet.

Using a Wisconsin accent, I used Magellan’s movable arms to grab Jack’s ankles, proclaiming, “I’m Magellan the Mouse.”

Though I definitely scared him, he was more excited than anything, to see a life-like puppet in action.

Jack then stuck his finger in Magellan’s mouth and began asking the puppet to start biting him because “it feels like a real rat biting me.”

That’s a glimpse of your upcoming life.

On any given night, you can likely expect something like this to be going on.

You will be raised by an eccentric Daddy who is always up to some new shtick to grow his YouTube audience in an effort to legitimately become a professional actor and entertainer.

Meanwhile, your brother will be crafting his own weird experiments, like placing his leftover Halloween candy into warm saltwater to watch it dissolve, as opposed to showing any interest or excitement in eating it.

Mommy’s the “normal” one. But by default, she can’t be all that normal when she is surrounded by Jack and me.

So where does that leave you? The next few years will help answer that question.

But I have a feeling that you will take after me in more ways than one.

Love,

Daddy

I Was Fired and Re-Hired within 90 Seconds… While I was in the Bathroom

I Was Fired and Re-Hired within 90 Seconds… While I was in the Bathroom

Yesterday afternoon I had recently returned from buying vegan chocolate cake for my wife, as well as “lip scrub”, which I didn’t know existed until she asked me to get it for her.

For myself, while I was there at Whole Foods, I also picked up a bottle of one of my favorite drinks: Synergy Grape Chia Kombucha.

I suppose I drank it fairly quickly once I returned to the office from my lunch break. So naturally, I had to hop on over to the restroom real quick.

By real quick, I mean literally less than 90 seconds. Here’s how I can know for sure:

Because at precisely 14:04:28, a message went out over our company’s instant message program that “Nick Shell is no longer employed” at the company.

(That message was apparently sent the moment I stepped out of my office.)

Then at exactly 14:05:55, which is less than 90 seconds later, a follow-up message went out explaining that it wasn’t “Nick Shell” who was no longer employed, but instead a different Nick.

Apparently by that time, I was washing my hands in the bathroom. I stepped out into the hallway, to see a huddle of people around my empty desk.

To make matters more seemingly dramatic, my boss (as a joke) moved my chair along with my name plaque and my hat and my empty Kombucha bottle out into the hallway.

Half the people who traveled from the other side of the office to see the crime scene hadn’t seen the follow-up message, so it only reinforced the idea I really was a goner.

I know now how loved I truly am by my co-workers. Apparently I had some people worried. I was originally hired on January 2, 2006; more than a decade ago.

While my family did move back to my hometown for about 8 months when my son was born over 5 years ago, I’ve worked at the company for over 9 years.

I’m known as the guy who has been there forever, so I guess it freaked some people out that I would just so suddenly disappear.

After I later took my afternoon 10 minute break, in which I took a walk outside, another coworker decided to decorate my desk as part of either my going-away party… or my triumphant return.

Dear Holly: Your Brother Jack is Playing with Your Toys, Already

27 weeks.

Dear Holly: Your Brother Jack is Playing with Your Toys, Already

Dear Holly,

As I mentioned last week, you received a Graco RoomFor2 stroller, from Mommy’s registry at Target. Well, we unboxed it this weekend and your brother Jack already started putting it to use.

Not the actual stroller, but its unattached wheels.

He immediately began using them as cannons for Pandy to shoot across the living. Soon after, his panda bear collected an army of other stuffed animals to help shoot the artillery.

From there, Jack insisted a make a video of him racing his cars, so I did. As you can see in the video, by this point it was Ellie the Elephant who was using the stroller tires as markers for the race track.

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2016/01/21/dear-holly-your-brother-jack-is-playing-with-your-toys-already/

That night, Jack went ahead and also broke out your new bath toys, which are a gift from some friends we met for lunch on Sunday.

So I’m thinking this is going to be a reoccurring thing. In the upcoming 3 months before you are born, Jack will inspect and test out any of your new toys or gadgets that could possibility provide entertainment and engagement for him.

I suppose it won’t hurt anything. After all, it’s not like your’re going to be aware of whether or not your new belongings were “lightly used” beforehand.

And I think it’s good for your brother Jack because he gets to be more involved with your arrival.

Dear Holly: Your Brother Jack is Playing with Your Toys, Already

He can truly feel a part of what’s going on. It’s important to me he doesn’t feel left out or overshadowed once you get here.

I want to proactively do my best to give you both equal, yet separate and unique, attention and quality time.

Because of the 5 and a half year difference between the two of you, I think it will be fairly easy.

I won’t be catering to 2 babies, but instead, one baby and one boy. Those are two different worlds, as far as I’m concerned.

However, it has become apparent that despite your age difference, you’ll both be sharing your toys.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Brother Jack is Playing with Your Toys, Already

Dear Jack: The Elf on the Shelf is Your Newest Stuffed Animal

5 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: The Elf on the Shelf is Your Newest Stuffed Animal

Dear Jack,

A year ago, Mommy bought a slightly smaller version of the Elf on the Shelf, on clearance after Christmas.

She unboxed it this past weekend and…. the next day he suddenly appeared in a different place.

That was the last time the Elf on the Shelf demonstrated his magic, because since then, you have been carrying him around with you everywhere: to school, to dinner, to bed…

In other words, you saw the Elf on the Shelf as an opportunity to adopt another stuffed animal.

This weekend when Nonna is in town, I’m going to have you and her count exactly how many stuffed animals you have now. I won’t be surprised if that number is very close to 100.

In fact, let me put in my official estimate. How about 83? I could be way under, but I think you have at least 83 stuffed animals.

As people have been seeing you in public, walking around with who you have named “Elfie,” some of them have looked at us in a state of surprise, as if it was taboo to carry about an Elf on the Shelf.

I’ve recently learned that legend says if you touch the elf, he loses his magic.

That theory checks out, as he hasn’t disappeared since the day you started carrying him around.

Granted, Mommy told me that this slightly smaller version is specifically designed to be held, as she read on the packaging.

However, people don’t know that when they see you holding him. Your friends at school and church were so shocked.

It makes no difference to you. He’s another stuffed animal and you managed to once again outsmart the system.

You let the rest of the world play their reindeer games with the Elf on the Shelf. Meanwhile, you just got away with a new toy before Christmas.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby

22 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby

Dear Holly,

This week Mommy got your brother Jack a new book to help him transition into his upcoming “big brother” status: It’s called The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby; where Brother Bear gets a baby sister.

(By the way, you will be born into a family that greatly appreciates the folksy Jewish/Christian cultural perspective of the Berenstain Bears’ book collection.)

It’s important to me that I make sure your brother doesn’t feel left out when you get here. Whereas you’ll always know what it’s like to have a sibling, he will have 5 and a half years’ experience as an only child before that changes for him.

Mommy and I are going to be on the lookout for a special toy for him, upon your arrival; it likely will be a stuffed animal, as that’s the main thing he’s into.

My own parents did the same for me when my sister was born; I got a Garfield stuffed animal.

Similarly, last week Jack got you a doll for when you get here.

You are going to get so much attention from everyone once you arrive. You are our precious little girl.

I just want to make sure I do my best to proactively prevent this from being more difficult than it has to be as he soon will become a big brother.

Fortunately, he’ll be old enough to where I think it will work to his advantage; that he will be eager to use his “helper” skills.

Your personality will be formed, and his may be altered, as the two of you begin interacting; especially in your first couple of years together.

So as your Daddy, I feel responsible for creating the atmosphere and environment void as much as possible of competition, but instead, cooperation.

I think that this new Berentstain Bears book is a good way to help set the pace right.

Love,

Daddy

P.S. Here’s a picture your brother Jack drew of our family so far. Before too long, he’ll be drawing 4 people.

Dear Holly: The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby